Theo, you have a very unique style. How would you best describe it?
I have developed a personal style that I consider to be a significant detour from classic landscape pictures. I wanted to create my own shooting style and give a very personal feel on the final result, not because I have to but because I need to. My landscape images belong to what you would call ‘fine art photography’, in a sense that they are all adapted to what I see with my mind and not with my eyes per se. My images are mostly moody, atmospheric, sometimes ominous or even melancholic in feel.
The human factor is intentionally missing from my pictures as I believe that once you put a person in a picture, that person becomes dominant and the ones that see the picture are just observers, not participants. Well, I intend to invert this state and turn the observer to a living part of the picture, to put them in the frame and let them live the moment. I also give carefully selected titles to my pictures, those that clearly emit what I want to express through a picture.
How have you honed that style over time?
One of the things I have learned is to be patient and wait for the right moment. Sometimes I have to wait for the correct season to get the image I want. I have also learned to ‘read’ the available light, to pay attention to exposure technicalities, to use various composition techniques and shoot from vantage points of view. There are many things you can do to fix a picture in post processing but you can’t fix a wrong or uninteresting shooting angle. Needless to say that I have spent many desk hours on tutorials and interpreting the work of other artists.
What is your photography history/background?
Being self-taught, I have been intensively involved into fine art photography for almost three years. Over time, I have managed to get nominations and awards at many photo contests, both local and international. I have also had four interviews by magazines and photo communities and have been invited by a Greek photo community for a live presentation of my work.
How and why do you use Lensbaby to create your surreal black and white landscapes?
All of the Lensbaby optics are used at large apertures (f/2.5-f/4) to allow for a more evident output. I find the use of the electronic viewfinder and focus peaking on my Sony A7 camera as godsends as they allow me to adjust framing, focus and exposure the way I want. I use the Lensbaby optics because no other lenses can give me the effect I want in the field and apart from the fact that I’m not a big fan of heavy post processing, I have found that no processing software can produce the same effect so realistically. I mean, the way these optics manipulate light is unique and phenomenal.
Even though most photographers use these lenses for shooting portraits and flowers, for me they are the means to create surrealistic landscapes. I have always been seeking a way to be on location and instantly create images that give a sense of ‘transient memory’, evocative scenes that pass before my eyes only for a brief moment, yet stay in my mind for quite some time. This sense is very effectively implemented by these lenses and since acquiring them, their impact on my photography style is so deep that almost all of my pictures are made with them.
What Lensbaby lenses do you use?
Do you always shoot landscapes in black and white?
I shoot moody landscapes and my pictures are mostly edited in black and white via color filtering or they are single toned. I am also making colored artworks when I decide that this is the way to go for an image but even then, the color palette differs far from what you would call a classic landscape.
However, all my landscape images taken with Lensbaby optics are edited in black and white. For me, this is essential to fully implement the visual impact that these lenses make. Many times colors may mislead you on the feel of the image and miss out on its real meaning.
Working in black and white makes a photo deeper, in a way it ‘demands’ the attention of the viewer, it compels us to ponder on a picture instead of just looking at it. Believe me, black and white pictures (or monochrome in general) have more color than we can imagine!